Nov. 17, 2008


by David Budbill

Sometimes when day after day we have cloudless blue skies,
warm temperatures, colorful trees and brilliant sun, when
it seems like all this will go on forever,

when I harvest vegetables from the garden all day,
then drink tea and doze in the late afternoon sun,
and in the evening one night make pickled beets
and green tomato chutney, the next red tomato chutney,
and the day after that pick the fruits of my arbor
and make grape jam,

when we walk in the woods every evening over fallen leaves,
through yellow light, when nights are cool, and days warm,

when I am so happy I am afraid I might explode or disappear
or somehow be taken away from all this,

at those times when I feel so happy, so good, so alive, so in love
with the world, with my own sensuous, beautiful life, suddenly

I think about all the suffering and pain in the world, the agony
and dying. I think about all those people being tortured, right now,
in my name. But I still feel happy and good, alive and in love with
the world and with my lucky, guilty, sensuous, beautiful life because,

I know in the next minute or tomorrow all this may be
taken from me, and therefore I've got to say, right now,
what I feel and know and see, I've got to say, right now,
how beautiful and sweet this world can be.

"Sometimes" by David Budbill. Reprinted with permission of the author.

It was on this day in 1558 that Queen Elizabeth I acceded to the English throne. She reigned for 45 years. She took over after the death of her sister, Queen Mary, and so Edmund Spenser, Christopher Marlowe, and William Shakespeare are known as Elizabethan authors, and not Maryan authors.

It's the birthday of the man who created Saturday Night Live, Lorne Michaels, born in Toronto, Canada (1944). He majored in English at the University of Toronto, and then moved to Britain in the 1960s to pursue a career selling cars. His friends loved his sense of humor, they knew that he liked to be in charge, and they encouraged him to quit his job as a car salesman and consider another career.

So he moved back to Canada, where he formed a comedy duo with Hart Pomerantz, and they had a television variety show on Canadian television, The Hart and Lorne Terrific Hour. They contracted their talents to comedic acts in the United States, writing for Phyllis Diller, Lily Tomlin, Joan Rivers, and Woody Allen. They also wrote for the NBC show Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, and then NBC asked Michaels to come up with a comedy show to replace the Johnny Carson reruns that aired Saturday nights at 11 p.m.

Michaels recruited talent from all sorts of places. Dan Aykroyd was a fellow Canadian, and Chevy Chase, John Belushi, and Gilda Radner had worked on the National Lampoon show. Muppet creator Jim Henson created sketches for the show, and recent Harvard grad Al Franken was signed on as a writer. And so Michaels put together the first season, 1975–1976, and won an Emmy for it.

This year, SNL has received some of its highest ratings, due largely to the popularity of Tina Fey's uncanny portrayal of Sarah Palin. Palin herself appeared on SNL in October.

It's the birthday of a young man who became a best-selling author as a teenager, Christopher Paolini, (books by this author) born in California (1983) and raised near Paradise Valley, Montana. He was homeschooled, and when he finished high school at age 15, he had a lot of time on his hands, so he decided to write a fantasy novel. He began Eragon, finished it a year later, at age 16. He spent a second year revising that draft, and then gave it to his parents. They loved it, and in 2002 Eragon was self-published through the family company. The Paolini family embarked on an exhausting tour to promote Christopher's book. They went to 135 promotional events that first year, dressed in red and black medieval costumes. Paolini got offers from both Random House and Scholastic, and in August of 2003 — when Paolini was still 19 — the book was published by a division of Random House/Knopf.

The book went straight to the number three spot of the New York Times Bestseller List. Paolini has written two best-selling sequels to Eragon, and he is at work on a fourth book.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




  • “Writers end up writing stories—or rather, stories' shadows—and they're grateful if they can, but it is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough” —Joy Williams
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